For decades now, Café Tropical has been serving coffee in Silver Lake and was acquired back in 2019 by the owners of El Cochinito. This has resulted in a mini Cuban food empire on the Eastside, with Café Tropical still serving up its famous coffee, medianoche sandwiches, and delicious pastelitos. If you wander in at 7am in need of caffeine and comfort in the form of pastries, order a strong cortadito and the café’s signature guava cheese turnover. The cortadito is a 1:1 ratio of milk and espresso, making it less heavy than your typical latte, but not as bold as a pure double shot. The turnover comes with a deep golden crust with tiny specks of guava paste bursting out from the flakey dough and tastes like the marriage between our favorite cheese danish and some of the best fruit jam we’ve ever had. It’s creamy, sweet, slightly tart, and the ideal way to start the day because life’s too short not to have pastelitos.
photo credit: Cafe Tropical
This pressed sandwich has tons of sweet and savory contrast going on and we’re here for it. The fluffy, sweet bread roll is filled with mojo-marinated pork, sliced ham, melted swiss cheese, and briney pickle slices. All of the fillings balance out the very sweet bread, but we still like to tip the scale with the garlicky mojo sauce on the side.
Guava Cheese Pastelito
Similar to how we felt about our middle school crush, guava and cheese were meant to be together. This classic Cuban pastry has a golden, super flakey crust and is filled with soft cream cheese and melted guava paste that peeks out of every crevice. These turnovers are buttery, super sweet, and just the right amount of tang. Grab an extra one to go.
photo credit: Cafe Troopical
Fried potatoes rarely let us down, but these crispy croquettes somewhat miss the mark. While the golden-brown exterior creates a nice contrast to the mashed potato filling, we’d love a more equal ratio of meat-to-potato for a more satisfying bite.
Coladas are some kind of wizardry that transform espresso into a sweet and creamy coffee that only mildly makes us want to sprint around the block. You can still taste the rich Cuban espresso as it’s stirred into raw sugar though, in case you’re someone who can’t handle jet-fuel coffee.